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Top New CMS Plugins, November 2020

Since there are so many CMS plugins out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the best ones for your website. We’ve done the research for you; this list contains the top new CMS plugins for November 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started…

WordPress

404 Page Editor

404 Page Editor is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you add custom text to the default 404 page on your website. The plugin comes with seasonal and industry-related 404 templates. One useful feature of the plugin is that it backups your current 404 page before changing it. So you can restore the backup page anytime you choose. The plugin duplicates your current 404.php page to wp-content/uploads/404-page-editor/ so you can easily find it. You can also change the text on the plugin to fit your local dialect. 

UnusedCSS Power-Up

Most WordPress themes and plugins load their CSS in the wrong areas of your website. This can slow down your site. A slow website will reduce user experience and lead to increased bounce rates.

UnusedCSS will help reduce the size of your website’s CSS files by up to 95%. The best part is that the plugin works automatically. It will remove any unused CSS when visitors view any page on your website. UnusedCSS will automatically reduce your website’s load times by reducing your CSS files and page size. The plugin also optimizes the performance of other WordPress plugins and extensions. UnusedCSS also works with WooCommerce themes and plugins.

Simple Redirects

Simple Redirects is a WordPress plugin that helps you to automatically redirect requests to another page on your site or any other place on the web. The plugin allows you to easily redirect users from your old web pages to new pages using 301 or 302 redirects. You don’t have to worry about losing backlinks or page rank. Any incoming links to the old web page will be automatically passed along to the new page. The page rank on the old page is also transferred to the new page. The plugin is useful when migrating a WordPress site when don’t want to retain the URL structure. 

HTML Validation

HTML Validation plugin helps you identify any HTML validation errors on your website. The plugin works automatically in the background of your website and will send you regular reports. There is a progress bar on the report screen to show you the progress of the scan. The plugin uses WordPress Cron to scan the content of your website. There is also an option for the plugin to automatically fix any HTML validation issues on your website. You can also choose to fix the issues manually. 

Just Highlight

Just Highlight is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you highlight text in your posts or pages. You can use this plugin to highlight any portion of the page you want to draw the reader’s attention to. You can highlight the background of the page and also add animation to the highlighted text. In the WordPress admin area, you can change the speed and color of the animation. The plugin is compatible with Gutenberg, and the WordPress classic editor. 

DeviantArt Embed

DeviantArt Embed is a simple plugin that helps you embed any work from Deviant Art into a post. The plugin provides a block for the WordPress block editor so you can easily embed the image. It uses a DeviantArt oEmbed API to pull the images and their descriptions, and creates an embedded image. 

Static Optimizer

Static Optimizer is a static file optimization plugin that serves and optimizes static files on your website. The plugin will help you increase your website speed by automatically compressing your static files. It is easy to set up, you just need an API key to get started. Other useful features that the plugin offers include automatic JS and CSS minification, automatic image optimization, and processing of responsive images. You don’t have to worry about losing your files if their server is down. The plugin automatically backs up your files and will load your original files when their servers are down (either because of an upgrade, maintenance, or outage).  By default, only images are compressed when you activate the plugin; you can also choose to optimize fonts, CSS, and JS files. 

RankBear

RankBear is a keyword rank tracker plugin that helps you analyze your SEO efforts. With RankBear, you can track the keywords for each of the posts and pages on your site. While the plugin has a paid plan, you can track up to five keywords for free. On the free plan, you will receive weekly reports on each keyword you are tracking. You can search for the rank and volume of a keyword in every location supported by the Google search engine. RankBear is a lightweight software-as-a-service plugin hosted by Amazon Cloud Services. The plugin also offers the option to download the keyword reports to CSV. 

Table of Contents Block

Table of Contents Block is a plugin that allows you to easily create a Table of Contents for your WordPress posts. The plugin is lightweight and will automatically add a Table of Content in your website’s posts and pages. You can select the heading tags you want to add to the Table of Content. It also has a dedicated support team to assist you. The plugin works fine with all standard WordPress themes. 

Markease For WooCommerce

Markeaze is an all-in-one communication plugin that allows you to add live chat to your online stores. The plugin will help you improve your customer service by decreasing your response times. With the plugin, you can collect your visitor’s contact information via a widget. This feature is useful in building a subscriber database. You can also use the plugin to track customer behavior on your site, inform customers about new products, help customers with active orders, and collect customer feedback. You can also use the auto-reply function to answer commonly asked questions. 

Craft CMS

Image Toolbox

Image Toolbox is a Craft CMS plugin that offers image-related tools for your templates. The plugin will automatically create a WebP variant of the images you upload. It also has a fallback for browsers that do not support WebP images. Other useful features the plugin offers include automatic creation of placeholder images and generation of responsive images with multiple variants. The plugin also supports Imager-X (or old Imager). 

Element Panel

Element Panel plugin allows you to add elements and an eager-loading panel to the debug toolbar. This feature will help you benchmark your templates in Craft CMS. For elements, the panel has a dashboard that shows how many elements are populated. It also shows how many elements are duplicates. The plugin also shows you how many eager-loading elements are detected. Duplicate elements are grouped by field name. 

Shopify 

VStore Shoppable Videos

VStore Shoppable Videos is a Shopify plugin that allows your customers to shop directly from your videos. The plugin allows you to embed your products into any video. Since videos have a high engagement rate, this plugin will significantly improve your store’s conversion rates. 

ProofMotion Video Testimonials

ProofMotion Video Testimonials plugin helps you to easily collect video testimonials. The plugin sends an automated email or SMS requests to customers asking for their satisfaction feedback after making a purchase. The responses are analyzed to determine whether the customer had a negative or positive experience. Customers that offer negative feedback are sent to customer care to help them with the problem they encountered. Happy customers are prompted to make video testimonials of their positive shopping experience. ProofMotion guides the customer through the interview so they can give the best testimonial. They also offer an on-site widget so you can easily share your testimonials. 

Real ID

Real ID is a Shopify plugin that allows you to verify customers’ real identity using a photo ID and facial biometrics. The plugin is perfect for orders that have an age restriction, verifying flagged fraud goods, and selling expensive goods. Real ID will help you identify whether a government-issued-ID is fake during fulfilment. All the customer needs to do is take a selfie on their phone. This way, even if a customer has access to a stolen physical ID, they won’t still be able to make any purchase. The plugin can verify documents such as passports, visas, national IDs, driver licenses, and more. Real ID will help you handle GDPR compliance. The plugin is available in hundreds of countries around the world. 

Joomla

Accessibility

Accessibility is a Joomla plugin that allows your website visitors to easily access your website content. The plugin will remove any barrier between the visitor and your Joomla site. There is no coding required and you can customize the plugin directly from the module manager. The plugin has a useful feature called Dyslexic Readability; this feature allows your visitors to set the entire document font to a dyslexic-friendly font. Visitors can also grayscale the page, resize the fonts, and resize the word space. From the backend module, you can add any custom CSS and JS. The plugin is also available in 12 different languages. 

Reading Time

Reading Time is a simple plugin that will help you easily show the reading time of your Joomla articles. The plugin is easy to set up and does not require any coding. You can customize every parameter, including the text, in minutes. You can also choose to exclude categories, articles, and menu items. Reading Time also allows you to easily add custom CSS code from the plugin parameters. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

How to Make Hyper-Personalization in Web Design Work For You

Personalization; it’s probably one of the most important design trends to emerge in recent years. 

As consumers in all industries become more demanding, they’re increasingly searching for online experiences that are customized to suit their individual needs and expectations

Today, personalization exists in virtually every digital interaction, from adverts on social media to PPC campaigns and email marketing efforts. 

Used correctly, the manipulation of demographic, behavioral, and other in-depth user-data can help designers to create dynamic, highly customized content for each website user. At the same time, these unique websites ensure that designers really make an impact on behalf of their clients, outshining the competition and driving amazing results. 

What is Hyper-Personalization?

Basic personalization in web design involves making changes to a design based on what you know about your client’s target audience. 

For instance, if you knew that you were designing for an audience that spends more time on their smartphone than their computer, you’d concentrate on building hyper-responsive experiences for small screens. For instance, the Canals-Amsterdam.nl website is specifically designed to support people using smartphones to swipe, tap, and scroll.

If you’re aware that your customer’s target market is other businesses, you might put more testimonials, free demo CTAs and other enticing components on the website to encourage investment. 

Hyper-Personalization is an emerging trend for 2020 that focuses on going beyond the basic understanding of a target audience, to look at genuine customer data. Hyper-personalization is all about leveraging in-depth omnichannel data to drive more advanced customer experiences on every page of a website. 

For hyper-personalization to be genuinely effective, designers need access to virtually unlimited data, from CMS systems, sales teams, marketing experts, and more. When you have that data handy, you can use it to:

  • Design websites that showcase dynamic CTAs, featuring content relevant to each user;
  • Implement sign-in screens for customers vs. demo requests for new leads on home pages;
  • Showcase products similar to past pages when repeat customers return to a site.

Why is Hyper-Personalization Important?

Personalized experiences have always been important to the sales journey. 

However, in an era where companies are constantly competing to grab user attention, you can’t just cater to your site designs to a group of people anymore. Increasingly, users are expecting specific interactive moments on websites, made just for them. 

Amazon is an obvious example to consider here. As one of the world’s leading online shopping sites, Amazon’s efforts with website personalization are incredible. The Amazon website uses tools integrated into the back-end of the marketplace to watch everything a customer does on its platform.

As users browse through the website, the site jots down each category that you look at, and which items interest you. Thanks to this, Amazon can suggest which products you may be most interested in. 

Websites like Madebyhusk also offer an incredible insight into hyper-personalization, allowing users to browse for the products that appeal to them based on in-depth filters like edging and color.

The result is a higher chance of conversion.

When customers feel as though they have complete control over their buyer journey, and that each step on that journey is tailored to them, they’re more likely to buy. 

Better Converting CTAs

A call to action is an excellent way to move things along when you’re encouraging the buying process with your target audience. 

Used correctly, your CTAs can encourage more than just cart conversions. They can also convince people to sign up for your newsletter via a subscription form, take a survey, or begin a free demo. 

Regardless of the CTAs that you choose to implement, personalization will quickly make your requests more effective. According to studies, CTAs that are personalized are 202% more effective than generic alternatives. 

For instance, Byhumankind.com uses a crucial statement: “Great personal care products don’t have to come at earth’s expense.” Followed by an engaging CTA to drive positive action from their audience. The company knows that they’re appealing to a customer interested in saving the planet, so they make the benefits of “Getting Started” obvious immediately.

Using data provided by clients, designers can figure out exactly how to position CTAs and offers for customers. For instance, notice that Humankind has a green colored CTA button.

Most buttons take advantage of bold colors like red and orange, but the green shade for Humankind further highlights the nature-driven personality of the brand. 

Relevant Product Recommendations

Repeat customers are infinitely more valuable than people who purchase just one item from your site.

However, convincing a standard customer to become a repeat client isn’t easy. Sometimes, clients need a push to determine what they want to buy next.

Fortunately, as a website designer, you can help with that. Using dynamic modules in the product pages of your customer’s website, you can show individual end-users what they might want to purchase next from a specific brand.

These dynamic modules can use information about what each customer has purchased in the past, to suggest a new product or service. Amazon do particularly well in this regard, leveraging a vast marketplace and treasure trove of information to make quality recommendations. But you don’t need to be designing a considerable website for a global business like Amazon to take advantage of dynamic suggestions. Any business with a focus on hyper-personalization can benefit from this strategy.

Increased Time on Site

Any form of personalization on a website can significantly improve the amount of time a customer spends in that digital environment. 

Imagine walking into a restaurant that seems as though it was designed specifically for you. The décor, the seating arrangements, and even the menu are customized to your taste. You’re more likely to spend your time and money there than on any generic food place you find on the street. 

The same rules apply to website design. The more hyper-personalized you can get with your client’s design, based on what you know about their customers, the easier it will be to keep customers engaged. 

For instance, the WarnerMusic.no website entices visitors with various high-quality images of popular bands and artists, before providing them with endless information about the brand and what it does. The designer of this site knew that it needed to appeal to the visual demands of the audience first, before offering useful information like featured artist lists, News, and blog posts to keep the users on site. 

Hyper personalization is all about figuring out what kind of end-user you’re designing for, so you can build the digital environment that’s more engaging and compelling to them. Some designers even create dynamic pages that change depending on whether a customer is a repeat client or a new visitor. 

Improved Loyalty and Affinity

Finally, it’s human nature that we all want to spend time with the people that treat us best.

We all value excellent customer service, which is why customer experience is the most significant differentiating factor for any organization today. 

Web-based personalization works in a similar way. When you use your design tools to make the site experience that you give to each visitor warm, individualized, and welcoming, then your clients are sure to see a boost in customer loyalty. 

Around 79% of consumers say that they’ll only consider buying from brands that care about them. As a designer, you can convince every website visitor that they’re going to get the experience they deserve. Just look at how TheHappyHero.com instantly lets clients know that they can expect a fun and friendly interaction on every page.

Accessing useful data from the companies that you’re working with before you begin developing and designing a website could be the key to creating happier customers and higher conversions. 

The more delighted end-users are with the experience that a website gives them, the happier that your client will be with you – increasing the impact of your design portfolio. 

If you can create customer loyalty and affinity for your client, then you will be able to develop the same feelings between yourself and your client. This could mean that you earn more recommendations as a designer and build your position as a leader in the industry. 

Hyper-Personalization is Crucial for 2021

As companies continue to worry about how they can safely use data without crossing the line when it comes to customer privacy, hyper-personalization has stayed just out of the mainstream. While it may be a while before we see every website designer starting their process with piles of in-depth data, it seems that we are heading in that direction. 

Customers in 2021 and beyond will undoubtedly want a more advanced and customized experience from the brands that they interact with – particularly in an era where it’s becoming much easier to deliver meaningful moments online.

 

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Exciting New Tools for Designers, November 2020

In the spirit of fall feasts, this month’s collection of tools and resources is a smorgasbord of sorts. You’ll find everything from web tools to icon libraries to animation tools to great free fonts. Let’s dig in.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

The Good Line-Height

The Good Line-Height is the tool you won’t be able to live without after using it a few times. The tool calculates the ideal line-height for every text size in a typographic scale so that everything always fits the baseline grid. Set the font size, multiplier, and grid row height to get started.

Link-to-QR

Link-to-QR makes creating quick codes a breeze. Paste in your link and the tool creates an immediate QR code that you can download or share. Pick a color and transparency, plus size, and you are done.

Quarkly

Quarkly allows you to create websites and web apps both using a mouse and typing code – you get all the pros of responsive editing, but can also open the code editor at any time and manually edit anything and it all synchronizes. The tool is built for design control and is in beta.

UnSpam.email

Unspam.email is an online spam tester tool for emails. Improve deliverability with the free email tester. The service analyzes the main aspects of an email and returns a spam score and predicts results with a heat map of your email newsletter.

Filmstrip

Filmstrip allows you to create or import keyframe animations, make adjustments, and export them for web playback. It’s a quick and easy tool for modern web animation.

CSS Background Patterns

CSS Background Patterns is packed with groovy designs that you can adjust and turn into just the right background for your web project. Set the colors, opacity, and spacing; then pick a pattern; preview it right on the screen; and then snag the CSS. You can also submit your own patterns.

Neonpad

Neonpad is a simple – but fun – plain text editor in neon colors. Switch hues for a different writing experience. Use it small or expand to full browser size.

Link Hover Animation

Link Hover Animation is a nifty twist on a hover state. The animation draws a circle around the link!

Tint and Shade Generator

Tint and Shade Generator helps you make the most of any hex color. Start with a base color palette and use it to generate complementary colors for gradients, borders, backgrounds, or shadows.

Pure CSS Product Card

Pure CSS Product Card by Adam Kuhn is a lovely example of an e-commerce design that you can learn from. The card is appealing and functional.

Free Favicon Maker

Free Favicon Maker allows you to create a simple SVG or PNG favicon in a few clicks. You can set a style that includes a letter or emoji, font and size, color, and edge type and you are ready to snag the HTML or download the SVG or PNG file.

Ultimate Free iOS Icon Pack

The Ultimate Free iOS Icon Pack is a collection of 100 minimal icons in an Apple style. With black and white version of each icon and original PSD files, you can create sleek icons for your iPhone screen in minutes. And it’s completely free! No email address or registration required.

Phosphor Icon Family

Phosphor is a flexible icon family for all the things you need icons for including diagrams and presentations. There are plenty of arrows, chats, circles, clocks, office elements, lists, business logos, and more. Everything is in a line style, filled, or with duotone color. Everything is free but donations are accepted.

3,000 Hands

3,000 Hands is a kit of hands that includes plenty of gestures and style in six skin tones and with 10 angles of every gesture. They have a 3D-ish shape and are in an easy to use PNG format. This kit has everything you need from a set of hand icons.

Radix Icons

Radix Icons is a set of 15px by 15px icons for tiny spaces. They are in a line style and are available in a variety of formats including Figma, Sketch, iconJar, SVG, npm installation, or GitHub.

Deepnote

Deepnote is a new kind of data science notebook. It is Jupyter-compatible with real-time collaboration and running in the cloud and designed for data science teams.

ZzFXM Tiny JavaScript Music Generator

ZzFXM is a tiny JavaScript function that generates stereo music tracks from patterns of note and instrument data. Instrument samples are created using a modified version of the super-tiny ZzFX sound generator by Frank Force. It is designed for size-limited productions.

Image Tiles Scroll Animation

Image Tiles Scroll Animation is a different type of scrolling pattern using Locomotive Scroll. The grid creates a smooth animation in a fun and modern style.

Bubbles

Bubbles is a Chrome extension that allows you to collaborate by clicking anywhere on your screen and then dropping a comment to start a conversation with anyone. This is a nice option for work from home teams.

Tyrus

Tyrus is a toolkit from the design team at Airbnb to help illustrators make the most out of their design businesses. It is broken into sections to help you with design briefs, originality, deadlines, and feedback.

PatchGirl

PatchGirl is an automated QA tool for developers. You can combine SQL and HTTP queries to build any possible state of your database.

Apparel

Apparel is a beautiful premium typeface family with plenty of versatility in a modern serif style. It is a contemporary, classy, and fresh serif typeface with a laid-back. Its medium-large x-height makes it ideal for headlines and brand identity design.

Christmas Story

Christmas Story is a nice solution if you are already starting to think ahead to holiday projects or cards. The long swashes and tails are elaborate and fun.

Nafta

Nafta is a fun handwriting style font that has a marker-style stroke. It’s a modern take on the popular Sharpie font. It includes all uppercase letters.

Safira

Safira is a wide and modern sans with ligatures and a stylish feel. The rounded ball terminals are especially elegant.

Shine Brighter Sans

Shine Brighter Sans is a super-thin sans-serif with a light attitude. The limited character set combined with its light weight is best for display use.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

How to Design a Contact Page That Drives Engagement

How can your customer reach you? If a client arrives on your website after searching on Google, what can they do to take the next step in a relationship with your brand, without buying anything?

One of the primary aims of any website is to drive conversions. However, it usually takes between 5 and 8 touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead. People don’t want to convert straight away.

Since building a relationship with customers is crucial to success, it makes sense that the contact page would be an essential part of driving results. Unfortunately, a lot of website owners pay virtually no attention to that page. They ask their designer to create a page with their address and phone number on – and that’s it.

What many business owners don’t realize, is that the contact page is the door to deeper, more lucrative relationships with potential prospects. The design of this essential website element needs to be fantastic to drive results.

So, where do you start?

Defining a Well-Designed Contact Page

Let’s start with the basics, what makes a great contact page?

The complete answer to that question depends on the target audience. Some customers will want to see fun and friendly contact pages, complete with social media sharing buttons. Others will want to see a map that shows them exactly how to reach an office or business.

There are a few golden rules to keep in mind, of course. Contact pages should be:

  • Easy to find: Don’t hide the link to the contact page on the website footer. Make it easy for customers to find out how they can get in touch.
  • Simple: Don’t put too much content on this page or it will overwhelm your audience. Just let them know where they can go to get answers to various questions.
  • Professional: Even if you have a friendly brand personality, your contact form still needs to be grammatically correct and well-designed to show a professional edge.
  • Convenient: Make your phone number clickable so customers can use it on Skype. The same can apply for your email address. Provide easy access to social media profiles, and if you have a contact form – keep it short and sweet.
  • Informative: Include all of your contact information in the same place. This may include your address, a map to your location, social media pages, email addresses, and even forums.
  • Accurate: Ensure that the information on your contact page matches the information listed elsewhere. Check directories and Google my Business listings to be sure.
  • Attractive: Yes, a contact page needs to look good too. Plenty of white space will make essential information stand out. A good layout will guide the eye through the page.
  • Consistent: Make sure the contact form on your website matches the brand personality that appears on all of your other pages.

Take a look at the Tune Contact page:

It’s beautifully laid out, with clear information that’s easy to read. The company shows exactly why customers might want to get in touch and how they can reach out. As you scroll through the page, you’ll find additional office locations, email addresses for different teams (sales and support), and links to social media accounts too.

How to Drive Engagement on a Contact Us Page

A good contact page needs to look fantastic, showcase the company’s personality, and capture audience attention. However, there’s a big difference between a contact page that gets the job done, and one that convinces your audience they have to connect with you.

Here are some excellent ways to make your contact us page stand out.

Step 1: Using Color Correctly

Color and color psychology have a massive impact on user experience.

Studies constantly demonstrate the conversion powers of having the right shades on certain pages throughout your website. For instance, changing a CTA button from red to green can increase click-through rates by 27%.

However, every audience is different. The colors that drive engagement on a contact page for your company will depend on your target customer. A/B testing color palettes that match your brand personality is a good way to get started.

One interesting example of colors that make the right impact on a Contact Us page comes from Hubspot. Here, the brand maintains it’s brand color (orange), but it also introduces some new shades that convey trustworthiness and professionalism.

Blue is the most calming and credible color for any brand, The gradient that Hubspot uses here blends perfectly with its brand identity, allowing for a stunning contact page, with CTA buttons that still stand out.

Experiment with colors that can generate the right emotional response from your audience, but don’t ignore the golden rules of color in web design. You still need to showcase your brand identity, and you still need a way of making crucial information stand out.

Step 2: Humanizing the Customer Service Team

Some of the customers that arrive at a contact page are interested in your product or inspired by the potential of your service. Other customers will be looking for assistance because they’re frustrated with something or stressed out.

If you’ve ever had a problem with a product and wanted to reach out to the brand about it, you’ve probably noticed how annoying it is to find a blank contact page with nothing but an email address. The lack of effort and humanity in the contact page is enough to convince you that you probably won’t get a response.

But what if you add some happy smiling faces to the page?

Research indicates that brains are fine-tuned to recognize and appreciate human faces. Having a picture of your customer service team, or just any human being on your contact page makes you instantly more approachable. Your customers start to feel like they’re reaching out to a person – not an empty website.

Look at how engaging and personalized this contact page from Amber McCue looks:

Although you can show any human face on your contact page and potentially get results, showing your actual agents will be more likely to drive positive results. It’s a great way to showcase the authenticity and humanity of your team.

Step 3: Making it Easy to Find

A surprisingly large amount of the time, companies shove their contact information into the footer of their website, forcing customers to spend forever looking for them. However, your audience might not want to spend an age searching for your details if they’re in a hurry to get answers.

Stowing a contact page in a footer is also a problem for those visiting your website via mobile, as they might not be able to see all your footer details and links as well.

A Contact Us page doesn’t have to be a massive part of your website navigation if you don’t want it to be. However, it should be one of the first things your audience can see. Putting the information on the header of your website, or even sticking it to the top of the page as your users scroll is very helpful.

Zendesk makes it easy for customers to get in touch in multiple ways. First, the Contact section of the website is clear at the top of the page. Secondly, if you start scrolling through the Zendesk website, a “Get Help” button pops up, so you don’t have to scroll back to find assistance:

Remember, aside from making sure that your contact page appears in the right part of your website, it’s also worth ensuring that it’s easy to understand. Don’t use unusual terms like “Chat”, or “Chill with us”. Stick to tried-and-true options like Help, Contact, or Support.

Step 4: Making the Experience Relevant

There’s a reason why it’s practically impossible to find a one-size-fits-all contact page.

It’s because different customers need different things from your brand.

Some customers will be looking for the answer to a question; others will want to discuss something with your sales team. That’s why many companies are using adaptive contact pages that can change to suit the situation.

For instance, you may start by asking customers what they need help with. Zapier takes this approach with its Contact page:

By asking the client what they need straight away, Zapier can make sure that the visitor finds the right information, and the right number or email address for the appropriate agent. You can even scroll down the help page and look for something in the available help centre, using the search bar. Or you can click on View our experts to hire a Zapier pro.

Creating a dynamic and customized experience like this does a few things. First, it ensures that the customer will reach the right person to help them first-time around. This reduces the number of inappropriate calls your employees have to deal with, and the number of transfers.

Secondly, you deliver a better experience overall for your client, because they don’t have to repeat their issue to multiple people or start a massive email thread. They get the support they need immediately.

Dynamic contact pages can even save you some money and time. If clients decide to solve an issue themselves, using your resources, that’s great for your busy agents.

Step 5: Direct People to the Right Place

The central focus of your contact us page needs to be the available contact options. Centralizing the contact options on a page is an excellent way to make sure that they get the right amount of attention. Centralizing also means that your customers can spend less time searching for the contact details that they need, which is great for usability.

The Melonfree.com website uses a contact us form that’s centralized to immediately pull attention to the customer’s options for getting help.

Centralization isn’t the only way of using design principles to guide visitors on a contact page. According to Ray Hyman and Edmund Hick, increasing the number of choices on a page often increases the time it takes for people to make a decision.

When it comes to connecting with a brand, the right option for each customer will depend on the person and the situation they’re trying to overcome. For instance, a customer that needs to reset their password will probably be able to get the solution they need from an FAQ page.

On the other hand, someone who needs help using a new feature might need the guidance of a professional. To help guide customers to the right solution, Basecamp gives customers a variety of steps to follow to get the right solution fast.

The main purpose of the contact page is to help customers get the right answer with an informative form. However, there are unobtrusive alternative options available too. If all you’re looking for is a way to help yourself fix a problem, you can click on the help guides link before you ever scroll down to the form.

Step 6: Support the Contact Team Too

The best contact us pages aren’t just a great way to improve customer experience. Well-designed solutions also help the customer service team to save time and stay productive.

One of the primary metrics that companies consider when evaluating the success of a service team, is the number of replies required before an issue is resolved. However, if the initial question from a customer doesn’t contain enough information, this number often increases.

Using the design of the contact form to access the right information helps with:

  • Automatically routing people to the right team member: Companies can set up segmentation rules that automatically send certain emails to different employees based on keywords. You might have questions that go to the sales team, and separate queries that you direct straight to the customer service team.
  • Show appropriate support options and FAQs: Remember to give the audience a chance to help themselves before they reach out for extra support. Links to an FAQ page or self-service options can really reduce the pressure on a team. Some companies even add automated chatbots to the mix to help with self-service.
  • Prompt for extra context: Although not every customer will take advantage of an opportunity to add extra information to a form, some will. Adding a box to your contact form for “anything we need to know?” is a great way to generate more information. Ban.do includes a simple “question” box where customers can add as much detail as they like. An option to add screen shots or documents might be a nice touch too.

Building Your Own Contact Us Page

Every customer has their own specific set of needs. The right contact page for another business might not be the right one for you. That’s why it’s so important to take some time getting to know your customers and speaking to your support team.

When you’re planning your contact page, it helps to ask yourself some basic questions about what you want to achieve. For instance:

  • What kind of channels will our customers want to use to connect with us? Look at things like social media messaging, email, or phone calls. If you’ve got a relatively tech-savvy audience, then they might want to use things like instant messaging with chat bots too.
  • How can we direct clients to the appropriate channels in as little time as possible? Having a system in place to automatically route your customers to the right agent will reduce the time to resolution for your customers. The faster you solve problems, the better your reputation becomes.
  • What can we do to set customer expectations and build confidence before they speak to us? Designing a professional-looking contact page will increase customer confidence, while an FAQ section shows that you’re ready to answer common questions.
  • How can we showcase a unique brand personality without making the page complicated? Everything from using distinct brand colors on a contact page, to adding images and illustrations reminds customers that they’re in the right place.
  • What can we do to reduce the friction points in a customer’s path to contact? Avoid adding too many input options to a contact form and ensure that it’s easy to reach out when your clients have a problem.

Understanding exactly what your audience needs from you, and what they’re looking for when they come to your team for help reduces the effort involved for your client when they reach out for help. Remember, today’s digitally-savvy customers expect their interactions with companies to be as streamlined and simple as possible.

Make the Most of Your Contact Page

Contact pages are frequently an afterthought in the website design process. However, they’re one of the most valuable tools your company has. With a good contact page, you ensure that your customers can always reach you when they have problems. What’s more, you boost your chances of people wanting to reach out to the sales team too!

Good luck creating a contact page that encourages engagement from your target audience. Don’t forget to track your results from each design, and A/B test for optimization.

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Everything You Need to Know About Websites And Privacy Laws

When it comes to compliance, website developers need to keep their eyes on more than just ADA regulations and Section 508. Privacy laws are a big consideration and decisions on how to build privacy into a website start with architects. 

And that’s exactly what website developers (and designers!) are. They build up attractive, functional websites and apps for their clients. Yes, they work closely with clients, copywriters, vendors, and other professionals to get the job done, but the developers are the ones who put it all together. 

That’s why it’s critical that website developers are well-versed in marketing privacy laws — these regulations directly impact the end results of their work. But how does a website architect create a digital platform that honors both user privacy and the needs of their clients? 

What Privacy Laws Are Important For Web Developers?

The two biggest privacy laws that web developers need to keep tabs on are the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Each law has its own unique scope and provisions, but they both shifted the landscape in defining an individual’s rights to their personal data and set mechanisms for how these rights would be protected and enforced.

Each regulation also carries with it fines, fees, and legal measures for non-compliance. These can be substantial. And if that’s not enough, there’s an ever-increasing consumer demand for websites that prioritize privacy and security. Consider these statistics:

  • 82% of Americans surveyed say they are concerned about the security of their online data
  • 79% of adults claim they are very or somewhat worried about how companies use the data they collect about them
  • 63% of Americans believe they understand very little or nothing at all about privacy laws and regulations that are intended to protect their data

How Can Developers Implement These Laws?

Privacy by Design is Critical for Websites

Under GDPR, web developers are required to adopt the Privacy by Design framework, which is a multi-point methodology intended to standardize data protection measures. 

Building privacy into websites shouldn’t happen at the end stages. It should start with how the websites are conceptualized in the first place. Here are points to prioritize:

  • Minimize that data you’re collecting and pseudonymize it to protect data privacy
  • Are you capturing consent? How? Where?
  • Integrating security measures to protect data — anytime you capture data or implement a third party product, a security risk is born.
  • Knowing where you’re introducing privacy and data sharing notices
  • Implement just-in-time notices to provide consumers transparency and build trust 
  • Giving your users the opportunity to manage their personal data

Let’s look at these a little more closely…

Data Minimization is the Goal

Data minimization is an important principle embedded in GDPR. Data minimization itself is a pretty straightforward concept: organizations should limit how much personal data they collect and only process the information necessary to accomplish their business purposes. Once the data is no longer useful, it should be deleted. 

For web developers, this means several things. When it comes to building websites, forms, cookies, and other methods should only ask for essential information. For example, if you are creating a pop-up to collect email addresses, don’t ask for their location unless it’s relevant to the email list and better serving their needs.

How and Where Do You Introduce Privacy Policies and Notices?

Let’s say you take data minimization seriously. That’s great! Now you need to put those data collection practices into words and share them with your customers. 

Privacy policies and notices are a big part of both GDPR and CCPA. Both the CCPA and the GDPR mandate that your privacy policy detail why you’re collecting information and how it will be used, as well as what the individual’s rights are and how they can exercise them. 

CCPA takes a slightly different angle, requiring privacy policies to disclose if the business sells personal data and what third parties have access to the data. CCPA also dictates that privacy policies and notices are current, updated at least annually.  (Nota bene: GDPR also asks for updated privacy documents, but doesn’t specify frequency.) 

How does this translate from policy into web development?

  • If you’re collecting data to improve user experience, allow for targeted ads, or sharing information with third-parties, this information will need to be included in a privacy notice. Remember, CCPA works with a broad definition of selling data, so you may need to account for a “Do Not Sell” link on your home page. 
  • Considering using data beyond these purposes? Plan to obtain explicit user consent for each additional purpose.
  • What’s your plan for the data after the user gives it to you? Where is it stored? Who has access to it? How long are you keeping it? These are all questions that a website developer should consider, and that needs to go into a privacy notice. 

Just-in-Time Notices for Transparency and Trust

Part of Privacy by Design is the use of individual components of your website to create transparency and support compliance. From a development and design perspective, this means you should always be looking for ways to communicate the hows and whys of data collection. 

Yes, your privacy policies and notices aid in this, but going beyond these pieces is important. Customers recognize when businesses go the extra mile for them, after all. 

So consider implementing just-in-time notices at points where users enter their information. These notices are a chance to share your data collection practices with your users. It’s transparent! It’s open! It aids in consumer awareness! 

Keep Users in the Loop

Want to win over your customers? Make it as easy as possible for them to manage their personal data and how it’s being used. This starts with making sure they are aware of why you’re requesting their information and how you’re planning on using it for the website. You should also:

  • Get user consent — clear and unambiguous user consent — prior to gathering any data at all. This includes cookies.  
  • Don’t pre-tick boxes for consent. Just don’t. (It’s bad practice AND it’s against GDPR.)
  • Link to all legal documents on the site. Users should be required to agree to them before using the service. 
  • Want to send marketing communications like email newsletters to your customers? Make sure they agree to this. Expressly. 

One helpful tool for keeping users in the loop is a marketing preference center. A marketing preference center allows users easy access to their information. From there, they can manage, edit, and delete their information at their discretion.  

Bonus? A marketing preference center is an excellent point at which to communicate a business’ commitment to privacy. While users will pick up this through all the discrete elements of privacy on your website, putting it all into one hub that also allows users control over their data really reinforces this message. 

Remember, it’s not just on the consumer to manage their data. Web developers should commit to managing the data in their systems. This means they should:  

  • Maintain accurate and clean records of users’ data consent preferences
  • Send regular reminders to users to update their personal information in your system
  • If a user deletes their account, promptly delete all of their personal information  
  • If your client goes out of business or is sold, they should delete all personal information in their system

Make it User Friendly

A final point: making your websites user friendly is important regardless of privacy compliance. Users expect websites that don’t make them think deeply about, or worry about, their privacy. Make it accessible and easy. Don’t make people figure it out on their own.

Give them value for sharing their data

Your users don’t have to share their data. They’re choosing to. So in exchange for their personal information, make sure you’re using it to provide a user-friendly website. Offer them a secure, enjoyable experience.  

But don’t ask for more than you need

Let’s loop back around to this point again. While consumer data can help you build a better website, don’t plan your websites around it and don’t demand data to create a good experience. 

Usability, web design, and website security; all of these things benefit from consumer data. But privacy laws should always guide how any personal data is collected and used, and respect for consumers’ individual rights, and honoring their privacy should be top-of-mind for web developers. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Top New CMS Plugins, October 2020

Plugins offer a ton of benefits to developers and website administrators; from flexibility, to saving time in development, the right plugin is priceless to a project.

In this article, we’ll cover a list of the best new plugins for October 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started.

WordPress

Sticky Post Expire

Sticky Post Expire is a simple plugin for WordPress that allows you to add an expiration date to your sticky posts. When the expiration date you set on a post expires, the post will automatically no longer be sticky. All you need to do is install/enable the plugin and a meta checkbox will appear in your posts admin area. It’s in this checkbox you will set the post’s expiration date.

Product page shipping calculator for WooCommerce

The Product Page Shipping Calculator plugin allows your customers to calculate the cost of shipping before adding the product to their cart. The plugin also allows customers to see the available shipping methods for their area. If the product cannot be shipped to the customer’s location, the plugin will notify the customer. All calculations are done using Ajax, so you don’t have to worry about the plugin slowing down your site.

Payment Page

Payment Page makes it easy to collect payments on your WordPress website. The plugin allows you to connect to any payment gateway platform of choice. You can also receive one-time or recurring payments using Payment Page. The plugin comes with beautifully designed templates that you can customize to fit your brand and style. The form builder helps you increase your sales and conversions. You can collect payment in any currency. After payment, customers will also receive a confirmation message.

WP Roadmap

Wp Roadmap is a product feedback board for WordPress. The plugins allow you to display your company’s product roadmap on your WordPress website or blog. The plugin will display your new products, business developments, upcoming events, achievements, awards, and future projects on your site. WP Roadmap also gives you the option to collect and create feedback boards. The plugin comes with an intuitive interface and works with any WordPress theme.

LiveSession

LiveSession is a session replay plugin for WordPress. The plugin allows you to record everything happening on your site, including clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements. This plugin helps you understand how your visitors interact with your website. You can rewatch the videos as many times as you like. Instead of recording every single visitor on your site, LiveSession will record visitors with a high engagement score.

The plugin also comes with a feature called Rage Clicks. This feature helps you identify when visitors encounter Javascript errors. The plugin also has a beta feature called Clickmap. It helps you identify the specific elements on your site that visitors clicked and how many times. There is also a heatmap feature that identifies which pages on your site get the most interaction. The plugin is very useful in improving your user experience (UX) and conversion rates. It easily integrates with Google Analytics, Segment, Intercom, LiveChat, HelpScout, Olark, Wix, Shopify, and WooCommerce.

Auction Feed

Auction Feed makes it easy to display eBay items on your WordPress website. Visitors to your website will be able to search and buy products directly from your site. The plugin comes with a variety of styles to fit any WordPress theme. You can also add a product description above or below the product image. Customers won’t have to leave your website before making their purchases. The plugin is also free to use.

Floating Related Posts

Floating Related Posts is a WordPress plugin that allows you to display a banner with a list of related posts on your website. The banner can appear at the top or bottom of the web page. You can set the banner to pop up using a time filter or scroll trigger. The plugin is also compatible with Google Analytics. You can customize the banner background color, font size, button style, and text color. The plugin can be translated into any language.

Simple Restrict Content

The Simple Restrict Content plugin allows you to restrict the content that visitors can access on your WordPress site. You can choose who can access content on your website by setting up roles. The simple lightweight plugin restricts different content types, including, posts, web pages, and WooCommerce products. The plugin is available in Spanish and English.

Easy Video Publisher

Easy Video Publisher is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily publish YouTube videos on your website. You can import YouTube videos from multiple channels. You can also schedule the YouTube videos to automatically upload to your website. Note that a YouTube API key is needed to import multiple videos at a time from a specific channel. The plugin allows you to use multiple API keys.

Preloader Awesome

Preloader Awesome is a preloader plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a page preloader interface while the rest of the webpage is still loading. Preloaders are interface elements that notify visitors that your website hasn’t crashed, just processing before serving content. Some of the features of the plugin include 14 page transition styles, progress bar, GIF support, 10+ default CSS loader, progress status counter, unlimited color, and counter font size options. The plugin is responsive and works on all modern browsers.

Menu Hover Effect

The Menu Hover Effect plugin allows you to add hover effects to the menu bar on your website. With this plugin, you don’t need to learn CSS. This plugin gives you 20 CSS menu hover options to choose from. It is a lightweight plugin and won’t affect your website speed.

Better Comments

The Better Comments plugin allows WordPress users to easily customize the comment section of their website. With the plugin, you can customize the look of your comment form fields, match the submit button with the colors of your site, and hide the comment’s date. The plugin also allows you to create a comment policy section. You can further customize the comment fields to highlight when they are selected and typed in. If you find rounded avatars common, the plugin also offers a hexagonal avatar option.

WP Pocket URLs

WP Pocket URLs is a handy WordPress Plugin that helps you manage your affiliate links. The plugin allows users to automatically shorten and track any affiliate link on their website. You can also manually shorten the links on your website. Each time a visitor clicks on a link you get access to information like click date/time, country, IP address, etc. You can also categorize your links and also create custom permalinks. There is also a dashboard widget that displays your top 10 links. On the “Reports” page, you can generate clicks reports. You can filter the reports by Month/Year, link category, country, and link title.

Craft CMS

Formie

Formie is a Craft CMS plugin that allows you to create user-friendly forms. The plugin comes with a drag and drop builder for creating forms. You can store user form submissions in your control panel in case you want to review them later. When a user submits a form, you will get an email notification. Formie also has an in-built keyword blocking feature to protect you from spam. The plugin has several integrationS: API for Elements, Address Providers, Captchas, CRM tools, Webhooks, and Email Marketing software. You can also create your custom integration. You can add over 25 fields to your forms using Formie.

Craftagram

Craftagram is a Craft CMS plugin for adding any Instagram feed to your website. Since the plugin uses the official Instagram API, you don’t have to worry about your website getting blacklisted. Craftagram also handles pagination for your Instagram feed. 

Shopify

We’re Open

We’re Open is a handy plugin for Shopify users. The plugin lets your customers know when you are open to receive new orders. Once your business hours are close, customers won’t be able to make new orders. A message will be displayed in your store that you are closed. The plugin ensures that you only receive orders when you are open. It works in any time zone and the API easily integrates with mobile apps.

Punch Metrics

Punch Metrics is a Shopify Plugin that helps you track your store’s visitors and also analyze their behavior. The plugin offers real-time data on your site’s visitors, the pages that see the most engagement, and which devices are the most popular. You can also record and replay visitors’ sessions so you can know exactly what they did on your site. Punch Metrics also has a heatmap tracking feature to understand which elements on your site get the most clicks.

Joomla

Simple Sliders

Simple Sliders is a content plugin for Joomla. The plugin allows users to easily create accordion sliders in their articles. You can add the sliders to your Joomla articles by adding this code:

{s​lider title="Slider 1 Title" class="blue"}
Slider 1 content.
{s​lider title="Slider 2 Title" class="red"}
Slider 2 content.
{/s​liders}

Jitsi Conferencing

Jitsi Conferencing is a video conferencing plugin for Joomla. The plugin will allow you to host meetings and easily connect with your clients. The module is simple and effective to use.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Exciting New Tools for Designers, October 2020

This month’s collection of new tools, resources, and freebies for designers is a smorgasbord of sorts. You’ll find everything from useful APIs to icons to tutorials to fonts.

Let’s get right into it, here’s what new for designers this month:

Tooltip Sequence

Now that your app or website is ready, you might need to help users engage with it. Tooltip Sequence is a simple JavaScript package that helps you create a series of small tooltips that will guide users through product features with a small description of what they need to know. It looks great and the best part is this tool saves you from having to create each tooltip description manually on each page and link them together.

Serenade

Serenade allows you to free up your hands with voice coding technology. Use natural speech and stay productive with this tool that allows you to code without typing. It works across multiple coding languages and platforms. It’s as easy as “add function hello” and the tool knows what syntax to use.

Gazepass

Gazepass, which is still in beta, is a nifty API that allows for passwordless multi-factor authentication for any website or mobile app. It uses biometrics on any device or platform to make getting into apps or websites easier for users.

Filters.css

Filters.css is a CSS-only library to apply color filters to website images. Installation only takes three steps and includes a variety of filers, such as blur, grayscale, brightness, contrast, invert, saturate, sepia, and opacity.

Sidebar Webring

Sidebar Webring is a collection of blogs and websites that are focused on web design. The curated list is handpicked for superb content for designers and developers. But, what’s a webring? It’s a collection of linked websites in a circular structure that are organized around a theme. The term is a throwback to the early days of the web in the 1990s and 2000s.

Wicked Templates

Wicked Templates is a set of responsive HTML templates made with Bulma and Tailwind CSS that you can style and use as you wish. Use these templates to jumpstart projects. Free and paid options available.

WP Umbrella

WP Umbrella will help you keep sites running in a healthy and safe manner on WordPress. Monitor uptime and performance, PHP errors, and keep up with hundreds of websites from one dashboard.

Servicebot

Servicebot helps you create customer-facing embeddable billing pages that work with Stripe payments. This premium tool is quite user-friendly and works with websites or SaaS.

Custom, Accessible Checkboxes with Perfect Alignment

Create custom, accessible checkboxes with perfect alignment every time. This walkthrough shows you how to use CSS to align elements and labels.

Sombras.app

Sombras.app is a nifty tool that creates 3D object shadows. Use the easy on-screen controls to get just the right orientation and shape.

urlcat

Urlcat is a tiny JavaScript library that helps you build URLs with dynamic parameters and without mistakes. The friendly API has no dependencies, includes TypeScript types, and is just 0.8KB minified and gzipped.

Reacher

Reacher is a real-time email verification API that lets you check the validity of an address before you send the email. Reduce bounce rates in an instant. (The personal version is free.)

Swell

Swell is a most powerful headless ecommerce platform for modern brands, startups, and agencies. Create fast and flexible shopping experiences with the API and headless storefront themes. This is a premium tool but does have a free trial.

No Code Founders 2.0

No Code Founders 2.0 is a platform for discovering the latest startups built with no-code and the tools used to build them. Browse startups, tools, perks, interviews, jobs, meetups, posts, and more as part of the no-code movement. The community engages on Slack and requires an email to sign up.

How to Pick More Beautiful Colors for Your Data Visualizations

Beautiful color choices will make your data visualizations that much more impactful. This tutorial by Lisa Charlotte Rost will help you make better color choices on the way to better infographics and charts. Plus, it’s well developed, designed, and packed with useful information.

IconPark

IconPark is a collection of more than 1,200 high-quality icons with an interface that allows you to customize them. It uses a single SVG source file that can be transformed into multiple themes. The library includes cross-platform components and is free to use.

Mono Icons

Mono Icons is a simple and consistent open-source icon set that uses mono spacing. The collection includes 136 icons.

BGJar

BGJar is a free SVG background generator for digital projects. Pick a category and customize the result to fit your project or needs.

HitCount

HitCount is almost too simple to be true. This tiny tool lets you add a hit counter to your website that’s as easy as adding an image. Copy the code and make any customizations you want. Then paste it to your design. That’s it!

Blacklight

Blacklight is a real-time website privacy inspector. The tool by Surya Mattu scans any website you enter in the scan bar and shows what user-tracking technologies are used on the website. This allows you to see who might be gathering data about your visit.

Alter

Alter is a customizable – and experimental – three-dimensional typeface that you can experiment with. It’s as fun to play with as use.

Autobus Omnibus

Autobus Omnibus is a simple all capitals font with new wave styling. The character set has 96 glyphs that are perfect for display use.

Deathmatch

Deathmatch is a seasonal blackletter font that’s ideal for the upcoming Halloween holiday. The character set includes plenty of options and there’s a full version (paid) for commercial use.

Futura Now

Futura Now is a premium typeface and update to a font you may already know and love. The new version has 107 styles in a massive family.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup is a fun almost handwriting style typeface with a cartoonish vibe. It includes a regular and italic style and is most appropriate in limited use.

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Why AI & Automation Are Actually Friends to Design

Artificial intelligence. Just hearing the phrase has been a trigger for many in the technology world since that creepy Haley Joel Osment film circa 2001. But more recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning strike fear into the hearts of skilled workers for an entirely different reason: job security, or lack thereof.

Smart-home devices, streaming services, self-checkouts, even Google searches are ways that artificial intelligence has seeped into everyday life, exemplifying the abilities of computers and machines to master both simple and complex tasks. In some instances, these technological advancements make our lives easier, but for some people, their proliferation has meant job loss and skill replacement. There’s no wonder that when artificial intelligence starts being mentioned along with web design and site creation, the spidey senses of designers all over the world start tingling.

designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do

But let’s get real about what AI and automation really mean for designers for a second. Talented designers with busy schedules should view these advancements as virtual assistants. For some small businesses on a limited budget, the websites that artificial intelligence can pump out might be fine…for a while. However, as businesses grow, change, require updating and customization to adapt to their customer base, the expertise of creative and talented designers will always be needed. Even the best AI that we see today is limited by evaluating, replicating, and revising what already exists. It may be able to mix 1,000 different color schemes into 10 million potential combinations, but great designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do.

In fact, rather than being scared of automation, designers ought to embrace automation and artificial intelligence as a way to unleash their creative thinking. Delegate repetitive, straightforward tasks to the right software, and suddenly you have time to bring your best ideas to the table and push the boundaries of your own innovation. 

Where AI has Failed in Design

The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence and automation in design work is a grand vision that has yet to be realised.

Consider the case of The Grid, which began as a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. The “revolutionary” product posed itself as an artificial intelligence solution for building thoughtfully, yet automatically, designed websites in five minutes. Research “Reviews of the Grid” in any search engine and you’ll be met with scathing criticism with only some small praise sprinkled in. Most of the initial users cite underwhelming results, the feeling of being duped by the Grid’s marketing tactics, nonsensical placement of text, and ultimately, the Grid being a complete waste of money for the resulting product. Even at the low cost of $100, compared to hiring a talented designer, most users felt their investment was wasted.

For the AI capabilities that exist now, most small business owners, or those looking to put together a simple website, are better off using drag and drop site builders (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc) that have been around for ages. Even so, there are plenty of businesses still willing to hire designers to take this simple task off their plate due to a lack of technical expertise or lack of time. And let’s be honest, are there even enough talented (keyword here!) designers out there to keep up with the millions of websites created every year, without each one working themselves to death? 

Where Automation Shines for Designers

Fortunately for good designers, it appears for now that the days of artificial intelligence completely taking over their jobs is a fantasy. However, what AI and automation do offer designers is a solid starting point for success, eliminating much of the lower-level grunt work that most designers would rather skip anyway.

Even well-received AI website builders like Firedrop still require a basic eye for design and specialised knowledge to produce truly unique, high-converting, and user-friendly websites. Tools and practices that designers should adopt are the artificial intelligence and automation resources that will help them do their jobs better, faster, and leave them with more time to focus on project elements that AI cannot accomplish on its own.

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers

Well-established brands are likely to already have design systems in place that guide the creation of new elements across their digital profiles whether on social media, various mobile apps, or different sections of a website. But even in large corporations — excepting those who have perfected the process — there’s often a breakdown between a designer’s vision and resulting product from the developers. It stems from the basic difference in how they each approach their work and the limitations of the systems they use.

While component libraries — or even full design systems for that matter — won’t reconcile every question, they provide both developers and designers a source of truth to work from that both parties can understand. Design collaboration tools like Invision and Visme, specifically, keep designers and developers on the same page with automated version saving and code-friendly workflows.  

Understanding the Consumer

I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site

Digging into and understanding the behaviours and habits of site users is a relatively new component of site design, but offers invaluable insights. Tools like HotJar, Mouseflow, or Smartlook make it simple to see holes or leaks in your conversion funnels, detect which page elements users are interacting with, and which they’re not interested in to refine the look and feel of a page for maximum conversions. Even though these tools provide the data, it still takes a keen eye and understanding of design to implement the right changes to improve site performance.

Site content is another way that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve our understanding of customer behaviour and improve site performance for individual users. I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site, no matter how much the results have improved. However, static landing pages or a single set of further reading recommendations are unlikely to appeal to the majority of site visitors. Artificial intelligence tools like CliClap and Personyze instantly collect and analyse consumer data to provide dynamic, personalised experiences that drive more leads and encourage conversions. Creative designers will also learn from this data to improve customer experience with other pages or elements throughout the site.

Removing Distracting, Time-Sucking Administrative Tasks

Because “artificial intelligence” has become a term with such negative connotations, we often overlook the simple way that AI actually makes our work lives better and easier. Machine learning in email filtering is a great example of this. Consider a simple interface like a Gmail inbox. We have the option to mark certain senders as spam or as important, and our inbox learns that type of communication is and isn’t useful to the user. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and more all take cues from the user behaviour of liking a certain song, artists, or genre of music to build customised playlists. There are a myriad of ways that artificial intelligence and its branches of disciplines merge with our everyday lives. 

Some of the most useful automations for business, and especially for designers, are related to the administrative tasks that frequently take time away or distract from more pressing projects. A perfect example of automation that can relieve stress and cut down on mindless work is an email autoresponder. I’ve always found that having time blocked off in my calendar to tackle complex or important projects helps me to focus on the task at hand and be more efficient. In order to more effectively block out my time, closing my email and setting an autoresponder to reply to all incoming emails serves two purposes: 

  1. Lets those trying to get in touch with me know that I only check my email at certain times of the day and that my response may not be immediate — tempering their expectations of when they might hear from me.
  2. Relieves my personal stress of being tethered to my inbox, splitting my focus, and also saves the time of having to initially respond to each email individually. 

This is just one simple way to use automation in your email, although there are many others to explore.

While Zapier isn’t the only workflow automation service on the market, it’s probably the most well known. Workflow automation reduces time spent on mind-numbing, repetitive tasks and helps designers connect apps that might not natively work together. Do you keep a task list in Todoist? Set up a Zap, then create a task in Todoist anytime someone mentions you on Asana or assigns you a task in Trello.

This is especially helpful for freelance designers who work with multiple clients across various project management platforms. The potential for automation to relieve unnecessary mental overhead for designers is nearly limitless.

Don’t be Afraid of AI, Embrace It

The bottom line of this brief overview of artificial intelligence and automation in design is that this emerging technology isn’t something designers should be scared of. In fact, it’s something to welcome with open arms because ultimately it can make our jobs, and our lives, better. Leave the monotonous tasks of collecting and analysing huge amounts of data or administrative minutiae to the machines; they can handle it.

Save the interesting, creative, abstract work for the talented designers who can turn AI recommendations into unique and intuitive digital experiences. Making the relationship between artificial intelligence and design symbiotic will yield the best results for every entity involved: the business, the AI, and yes, even the designer.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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